Autism is a neurological condition that usually involves difficulties in communication and social relations. People on the autism spectrum can be quite different from one another, though, and have quite different strengths and difficulties. Their greatest challenges come when they need to interact with neurotypical people at school and in other parts of social and work life.
George Watts is one of a small number of elementary schools within Durham Public Schools that has separate classrooms for students on the autism spectrum. Ms. Roberts’s AU classroom for K-2 is on the second floor, and Ms. Odell’s classroom for 3-5 students is on the third floor.
At George Watts, students on the autism spectrum have a variety of classroom assignments. Some students spend most of their schoolday in one of the AU classrooms. Some students are members of a general education classroom and get EC (Exceptional Children’s) services within that classroom and spend part of their day in an AU classroom. Other George Watts students on the autism spectrum are in regular classrooms exclusively and are not part of one of the AU classrooms. This diversity serves the DPS goal to ensure “that every student has access to the general curriculum and an opportunity to learn that is equal to that of non-disabled students.”
If you are interested in reading more about autism, below is a list of useful books (and one blog). Many of them are written by people with autism, who are of course the best source for learning what it is like to live with autism. Many are available to borrow from a bin in the Watts library:
Fiona Bleach, Everybody Is Different: A Book for Young People Who have Brothers or Sister with Autism
Landon Bryce, I Love Being My Own Autistic Self
Rochelle Bunnett, Friends at School
Gennifer Choldenko, Al Capone Does My Shirts: A Tale from Alcatraz
Temple Grandin, The Autistic Brain: Helping Different Kinds of Minds Succeed
Temple Grandin, Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism
Naoki Higashida, The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism
Sarah Peralta, All About My Brother
John Elder Robinson, Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s
Jennifer Rose, It’s Not a Perfect World, but I’ll Take It: 50 Life Lessons for Teens Like Me Who Are Kind of (You Know) Autistic
Steve Silverman, Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity
Andrew Solomon, Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity